Exterior Home Improvement Trends: A Real Estate Agent’s Perspective

The exterior of a home is the first visual impression that a home buyer is exposed to. And, whether a homeowner is interested in selling their home in the near future or they simply want to ensure that it is well maintained, there are some projects that appeal to both camps. As a real estate agent, it becomes apparent quite quickly what people tend to ask about when it comes to buying and selling homes. From the seemingly obvious to the creative, below are a few exterior home improvement trends that builders and contractors should keep an eye on.

1. Fiber-Cement Siding

As homeowners seek a better balance between work and pleasure, they strive to make their time at home one of relaxation instead of a nearly-constant stream of maintenance chores. Fiber-cement siding is one of the fastest growing options in "maintenance-free" siding. With its appealing wood look, homeowners are pleased to hear this combination of sand, cellulose and cement won't combust, rot or attract wood-boring insects like termites.

2. Fiberglass or Vinyl Windows

While vinyl windows continue to be a popular exterior home improvement -- at least in part because of its easy maintenance -- another option has been making headway with homeowners as well. Fiberglass windows maintain the integrity of paint better than vinyl windows and, like our first trend, this allows homeowners to spend less time maintaining their home. While this difference isn't huge in the grand scheme of things, it still seems to be enough to pique the interest of buyers. Another attractive feature of fiberglass windows is that the fiberglass itself is more stable -- even under extreme temperature changes.

3. Metal Roofing

Being lulled to sleep by the gentle patter of rain on a metal roof used to be relegated to charming stories and vacation homes on the beach. These days, though, metal roofing has finally begun to enjoy a newfound interest among homeowners and buyers. Not only does it evoke feelings of peacefulness and relaxation when it rains, metal roofing is practically maintenance free as far as consumers are concerned. Homeowners can also find today's metal roofing in a variety of looks including clay tiles, wood shakes and slate. Buyers are often surprised that the replacement cycle of metal roofing is nearly three times longer than conventional asphalt shingles, and often seem to be sold on the concept once hearing this.

4. Multiple Textures

Homeowners are often searching for tasteful ways to make their home stand out from their neighbors. One way to do so is to use more than one type of texture on its exterior. Adding a layer of stone to a home that has maintenance-free siding installed elevates the visual appeal and provides an extravagant look. By varying the styles of siding, the exterior of a home takes on a rich appearance that increases its depth and adds character. More and more home sellers have been asking about this type of improvement lately, and those who aren't aware of its feasibility are often open to the idea after understanding what their options might be. Its popularity and execution may differ by region, but it would not be surprising to see more homeowners exploring this option in the near future.

5. Energy Efficient Upgrades

There is a great deal of attention paid to the upgrades that homeowners make inside their home to increase its energy efficiency or reduce its "carbon footprint". These renovations are popular because they provide value during ownership and at the time of a sale. However, there are plenty of ways they can improve the exterior of their home for added efficiency. Having items like skylights, energy-efficient doors and windows installed saves the homeowner enough money that their costs are typically recouped over time. The great part about energy-efficient upgrades is that there are really two types of buyers (with a decent amount of overlap) that can be targeted. Buyers looking to save on their monthly bills and increase the value of their home are certainly common. Buyers who are "eco-friendly" are starting to catch up in numbers. Whether it takes a logical or emotional appeal to get through to a potential buyer, there isn't much actual selling that needs to be done. With Millennials making up an increasing portion of the home buying market, expect to appeal to the eco-friendly buyer (with a hint of economic incentive) more often in the coming future.

6. Bring the Indoors Out

Today's homeowner is blurring the dividing line between indoor and outdoor activities. The airy and open floor plans that dominate the wish list of potential home buyers naturally flows into their yards, patios and decks. This results in them adopting their outdoor spaces for activities that used to be reserved for the inside only. While cooking outside -- in the form of grilling -- has been popular for years, it's only been fairly recently that homeowners have taken the entire kitchen outside in the amount we've been seeing. Homeowners today want creative and innovative solutions that address their desire to live a more sustainable and satisfying life. Providing basic ideas, such as those noted above, provides a fantastic jumping-off point for creating a space that the homeowner can't wait to get home to.